People often compare cataracts to looking through a dirty car windshield. If your vision becomes blurry, cloudy, or dimmed, you may have a cataract developing in one or both of your eyes. Read more »
Complete Cataract Care
Dr. Lu of Eye Consultants of Arizona has over 35 years of ophthalmology experience to take care of your cataracts. Fortunately, cataract surgery is available to restore your vision. If your cloudy vision is affecting your ability to live normally, it may be time to consider cataract surgery. We also specialize in medical and surgical treatment of pterygium (eye growth).
Do you have Cataracts?
Because a cataract develops over time, you may not realize that your vision is becoming blurry or dim until it is too late.
If you suspect that your vision is being impacted, make an appointment with the experts at Eye Consultants of Arizona today for a complete exam to prevent more vision loss.
Emergencies happen, and at Eye Consultants of Arizona, we understand that. Your eye is one of the most important parts of your daily life, so if you are in an emergency situation and in need of emergency eye care, give us a call at 480.857.3333.
We offer emergency procedures on site, and you don’t need a referral!
What is a cataract?
The lens is a part of the eye that helps to focus light on the retina. The lens lies behind the iris and the pupil. The lens is made mostly of water and protein. The protein is arranged in a precise way that keeps the lens clear as light passes through it. Much like an old camera, the camera lens focuses light onto film where the image is recorded; the lens of the eye focuses light onto the retina where it is changed to nerve signals that are sent to the brain. In either situation if the lens is not clear it does not allow light to pass through it properly and the result is a poor image. When the lens of the eye is clear it is simply referred to as the lens but when it becomes cloudy it is then diagnosed as a cataract.
How does a cataract develop?
As we age some of the protein may clump together and start to cloud the lens. Over time the cataract may progress and cloud more of the lens making it harder to see. There are several stages of cataract development and more than one type of cataract.
An early cataract is called an incipient cataract and at this stage it does not have much affect on vision and just needs to be monitored for progression. This is one reason that we recommend yearly dilated eye exams. As a cataract progresses it is graded from trace to 3+ or mature.
There are several different types of cataracts including:
- Congenital – some babies are born with cataracts or develop them in childhood.
- Traumatic – cataracts can develop after a traumatic injury to the eye, sometimes even years later. The severity of this cataract is related to the amount of trauma to the eye.
- Nuclear Sclerotic – this is the most common type of cataract caused by the aging process. This aging causes a hardening and yellowing of the nucleus in the center of the lens. This type usually changes slowly and causes changes in a person’s eyeglass prescription.
- Cortical – this type forms in the outer layers of the lens. This type of cataract can look like white spokes in a wheel pointing towards the middle of the lens.
- Posterior and Anterior Subcapsular – this type develops under the capsule (bag) that surrounds the lens. Steroid medication use and high myopia are risk factors for this type of cataract.
It is possible for a patient to develop more than one type of cataract.
How can cataracts affect vision?
The most common symptoms of a cataract are:
- Blurry or cloudy vision.
- Colors seem faded.
- Glare – headlights, lamps or sunlight may seem too bright.
- Halos – lights have a ring or starburst around them.
- Double or ghost images.
- Frequent changes in glasses or contact lens prescriptions.
- Be aware that these symptoms can also be a sign of other eye problems.
When is cataract surgery recommended?
In the past it was often said that cataract surgery was not necessary until the cataract was “ripe”; however, with the advancements made in cataract surgery this is no longer true. There is no exact moment in cataract development that surgery is recommended. Due to varying tolerance levels and life style differences, patients are bothered by cataract changes at different stages of development. When a cataract is interfering with daily activities and vision cannot be improved to a satisfactory level with a new glasses prescription, brighter lighting, anti-glare glasses or magnifying lenses then it is reasonable to consider surgery. In some cases a cataract should be removed even if it doesn’t interfere with vision. For example, if it prevents examination or treatment of another eye problem, such as diabetic retinopathy or macular degeneration. Once a patient understands the risks, benefits, alternatives and complications, they can make an informed decision about cataract surgery. Cataract surgery is not a high risk surgery but the risk involved in any surgery is never nonexistent.
The cornea is the eyes outer most layer. It is the clear, dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye. It is a highly organized group of cells and proteins and contains no blood vessels to nourish or protect it from infection. Instead, the cornea receives its nourishment from the tears and the aqueous humor (fluid inside the eye) that fills the chamber behind it. The cornea must remain clear to refract light properly. The tiniest blood vessel, cloudiness or opaque area can interfere with vision.
When light strikes the cornea, it refracts (bends) the incoming light through the anterior chamber and pupil to the lens of the eye. For clear vision, light rays must be focused by the cornea and the lens to fall precisely on the retina. The retina converts the light rays into impulses that are sent through the optic nerve to the brain, which interprets them as images.
The cornea copes very well with minor injuries or abrasions. If the highly sensitive cornea is scratched, healthy cells quickly patch the injury before infection occurs. If the injury penetrates more deeply the healing process will take longer. Deeper scratches can cause corneal scarring and/or hazing that can affect vision.
Some diseases and disorders of the cornea are:
Corneal infections – if the cornea is damaged from an abrasion, foreign body or issue with contact lenses it can cause painful inflammation (keratitis) and infection. These infections can reduce visual clarity, produce discharge and possible erode the cornea (corneal ulcer). Infections can lead to scarring and can impair vision.
Dry eye – the continuous production and drainage of tears is important to eye health. Tears keep the eye moist, help wounds heal and protect against infection. When the eye is dry it produces fewer or less quality tears and is unable to keep the surface lubricated and comfortable. The tear film consists of three layers including:
1. Lipid layer – it keeps tears from evaporating too quickly and helps tears remain on the eye.
2. Aqueous layer – it nourishes the cornea and conjunctiva.
3. Mucin layer – it helps to spread the aqueous layer across the eye to ensure that the eye remains moist.
The symptoms of dry eye include:
- A scratchy or sandy feeling
- Foreign body sensation
- Blurry vision
Artificial tears are the principal treatment for dry eye and ointments can be used at night to help prevent the eye from drying. For some patients prescription eye drops can assist the eye in producing more of its own tears. Another option is having punctal plugs inserted in the tear drainage openings to keep more of the eyes natural tears on the surface.
Corneal dystrophies – they are conditions in which one or more parts of the cornea lose their normal clarity due to a buildup of cloudy material. They affect vision in different ways that vary in the affect they have on vision and comfort. Some of the most common dystrophies include Fuchs’ dystrophy, keratoconus, lattice dystrophy and map-dot-fingerprint dystrophy.
The conjunctiva is a protective membrane that lines the inside of the eyelids and covers the exposed sclera (white of the eye).
Conjunctivitis (pink eye) – this term describes a group of diseases that cause swelling, itching, burning, and redness of the conjunctiva. At its onset, conjunctivitis is usually painless and does not harm vision. In most cases the infection will clear without requiring medical care but for some forms treatment is needed. It can be caused by a bacterial or viral infection, allergy, environmental irritants or contact lens product. It can spread from one person to another quite easily. Hand hygiene is very important to prevent spreading but bath and bed linens need to be changed and not shared.
Pterygium – it is a pinkish, triangular-shaped growth on the white of the eye that extends onto the cornea. Some pterygia grow slowly throughout a person’s life, while others stop growing after a certain point. Pterygia are more common in sunny climates and in the 20 to 40 age group. Since many people who develop pterygia have spent a significant amount of time outdoors, it is believed that ultraviolet light from the sun is a leading cause. Artificial tears and prescription medications can manage the symptoms but it does not cure the condition. They can become chronically red, inflamed and/or threaten the cornea and in these situations it is reasonable to consider having it surgically removed.
Subconjunctival hemorrhage – it occurs when a tiny blood vessel breaks just beneath the clear layer on the surface of the eye. It is can be caused by coughing, sneezing, heavy lifting, rubbing the eye and or any action that puts strain on the eye. The conjunctiva cannot absorb the blood quickly so the blood is trapped under the transparent surface and can take 10 to 14 days to clear. Patients taking aspirin or other blood thinners can be more at risk but the benefit of the taking these medications outweighs the risk of developing a conjunctival hemorrhage. Although it appears severe complications from a subconjunctival hemorrhage are rare. Artificial tears can soothe the eye if it feels scratchy or it is bothersome.
Información en Español sobre Cataratas
La catarata es una opacidad del cristalino del ojo. Cuando vemos algo, los rayos de luz viajan a nuestro ojo a través de la pupila y se enfocan sobre la retina (una capa de células sensibles a la luz en la parte posterior del ojo), por medio del lente. El lente debe ser transparente con el fin de poder enfocar la luz adecuadamente sobre la retina. La condición de opacidad o enturbamiento del lente es llamada catarata.
Si su visión se ha vuelto borrosa, turbia o débil, o las cosas que ve no son tan brillantes o coloridas como solían verse, una catarata puede haberse desarrollado en uno o ambos ojos. Muchas personas describen la visión con cataratas como algo similar a ver a través del parabrisas sucio de un auto.
A medida que una catarata lentamente comienza a desarrollarse, es posible que usted no note ningún cambio en su visión al principio. Pero a medida que la catarata progresa, puede empezar a encontrar que interfiere con sus actividades diarias. Por medio de un examen ocular completo, su oftalmólogo (Oculista) puede decirle si las cataratas u otro problema son causa de su pérdida de visión.
A menos que existan situaciones inusuales, solo se considerará razonable una cirugía de catarata cuando su visión sea tan pobre que interfiere con sus actividades diarias a causa de la catarata. Después de que su doctor le informe que usted tiene una catarata, usted y su doctor son los únicos que pueden determinar si y cuando usted debe someterse a cirugía de catarata, y esta determinación debe basarse en sus necesidades visuales y consideraciones médicas. Si usted decide someterse a la operación, el cirujano reemplazará su lente natural con un implante para restaurar su vista. Este implante es un lente intraocular (IOL), el cual usualmente es hecho de plástico, silicona, o de un material acrílico y que se coloca
quirúrgicamente y permanentemente dentro del ojo. Adicionalmente, se puede requerir el uso de anteojos aún después que el lente artificial sea implantado para obtener la mejor visión posible.
Información en Español sobre Pterigio o Carnosidad
Pterigio o Carnosidad
El Dr. Luis W. Lu del Eye Consultants of Arizona habla sobre los ojos.
Y QUE ES LA CARNOSIDAD / PTERIGIO / PTERYGIUM?
La llamada “Carnosidad” o Pterigio es un tejido fibroso con vasos saguineos en forma de ala que crece de la parte blanca del ojo hacia la zona central y que puede invadir el ojo y hasta llegar a dejarlo ciego.
La ocurrencia de este crecimiento esta muy relacionado a la exposicion a la luz ultravioleta, aunque otros factores contribuyentes son la sequedad del ambiente, inflamacion, exposicion al viento, tierra u otros irritantes.
Para los medicos y aquellos que quisieran entender mas profundamente este crecimiento abnormal, les explicare que la Luz Ultravioleta tipo B es mutagenico en las celulas germinales del limbo corneal (borde de la zona blanca con la de color), con liberacion de una serie de factores que hacen que crezca una cicatriz con vasos sanguineos y celulas, que migran hacia el centro de la parte central del ojo. Este crecimiento al avanzar, hace que destruya las capas anteriores de la cornea.
Es mas frecuentemente encontrado en personas que viven en zonas aridas y calurosas, mas aun cerca del ecuador de la tierra. Existen zonas endemicas donde casi todas las personas lo tienen y puede cercer a veces muy rapidamente de ambos lados cubriendo el centro del ojo, dejandolo sin vision.
La carnosidad es casi siempre precedida por una zona elevada en el area “blanca“ interna del ojo (Pingueculae). La carnosidad puede inducer distorsion visual (astigmatismo) en proporcion al tamano de esta.
Muchas personas usan gotas para eliminar el enrojecimiento y con ello solo eliminan el “color rojo”, sin embargo, la carnosidad continua creciendo y el ojo como que se “acostumbra” a las gotas requiriendo cada vez mas de ellas.
Las indicaciones para la remocion de la carnosidad son: 1. Crecimiento desmedido 2. Irritacion continua 3. Distorsion de la vision y 4. Enrojecimiento del ojo que no se puede eliminar con lagrimas artificiales.